Sunday, January 8, 2012

Birth Of A Supervillain: The Flash: Blitz Is A Turning Point For Wally West!

The Good: Good artwork, Very engaging story, Decent character development
The Bad: Somewhat unsatisfying resolution, Moments where the suspension of disbelief goes just a little too far.
The Basics: The Flash: Blitz is one of the essential Flash stories that creates a second incarnation of one of the most powerful villains in the DC Universe!

As my Flash Year gets underway, I am actually very excited. I picked the Flash because I was intrigued by the brief appearance of the Reverse Flash, Zoom, in Wonder Woman: Land Of The Dead (reviewed here!). The character intrigued me and I was pretty psyched when my first venture into the Flash for the year, with The Return Of Barry Allen (reviewed here!) included an appearance by Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash! But with Zoom on the cover of The Flash: Blitz, I was even more excited about The Flash: Blitz!

It wasn’t long into The Flash: Blitz before the book began to take on a startlingly familiar feel to me, though. The very first graphic novel series I read was Knightfall (Volume 1 is reviewed here!) and The Flash: Blitz uses the fundamental plot conceit of that book. On the plus side, I found The Flash: Blitz to be less derivative in that those who are broken out of Iron Heights Penitentiary are not simply rounded up for the rest of the story. One big plot event becomes an intimate character study as Wally West is presented with a deranged foil who develops into an exceptionally compelling villain.

Life is going well for Wally West in Keystone City when a small army of gorillas attacks Iron Heights Penitentiary. The mind-controlled gorillas are there for a single purpose: to liberate the maniacal Gorilla Grodd. As they sweep through the prison, the gorillas release the rogue villains who have been incarcerated there, setting up a potentially devastating conflict for the Flash. But before the Flash can track down all of the villains, he needs to recover Grodd and bring him to justice. Unfortunately, the attempt to stop Grodd leaves police profiler, and West’s good friend, Hunter Zolomon, with a broken spine and unable to walk!

As Zolomon slowly adapts to his partial paralysis, Wally West grieves for the loss of a real ally within the Keystone City police force. His time with Zolomon, however, is continually cut short by the appearance of rogues like Twister and Peek-A-Boo. While Ironwood is refortified and West brings Twister to justice, a new threat emerges that the Flash could not foresee. That threat goads Wally West into a conflict that threatens not only Wally West and his family, but the legacy of the Flash!

The Flash: Blitz is a reinvention of Zoom with an entirely new character taking on Wally West and as a villain, this new Zoom is a surprisingly interesting villain. More than just some faceless megalomaniacal villain like so many of the rogues released from Iron Heights Penitentiary, the new Zoom presents himself as a teacher and has an intelligence to him that is downright frightening. Moreover, writer Geoff Johns presents the new Zoom with enough of an extensive backstory as to be interesting, even if his actions are horrific.

The artwork in The Flash: Blitz is homogeneously good, which suggests that projects Geoff Johns was associated with got the best artists, as other works from this same era in DC Comics tended to be less than compelling. But with motion being such an important function of a Flash comic, it is reassuring to see that The Flash: Blitz has both decent coloring and strong lines to create a great sense of movement. While some of the panels are surprisingly static, the artwork is an effective companion to the storytelling.

The Flash: Blitz tells the story of a villain with a compelling start whose story quickly becomes twisted, making him an interesting anti-thesis to the Flash. More than that, Wally West’s journey becomes that much more interesting because the book forces West to deal with the consequences of being a known superhero in a very dangerous world. That makes The Flash: Blitz a very fresh book, even after almost twenty years!

For other DC Universe books that feature the Flash, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
JLA: Secret Origins
Blackest Night: Green Lantern


For other book reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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